Business Secretary holds Brexit roundtable with businesses

08 August 2019

08 Aug 2019 

Business Secretary, Andrea Leadsom held her first Brexit roundtable with a range of businesses supporting employers to prepare for leaving the EU on 31 October 2019.

Meeting in Westminster on 31 July 2019, senior representatives from businesses including Tate and Lyle Sugars, JML Group, Tangle Teezer, Laing O’Rourke, Scottish Power and 50 Cycles told the Business Secretary how they were ready and determined to seize the opportunities of a post-Brexit Britain. They explained that while there were some concerns about readiness for a no-deal Brexit, none of the issues were insurmountable and that they were keen to take up the chance to trade both with EU member states, and countries outside the EU.

Ms Leadsom urged the businesses present to speak with their colleagues and trade associations, to pass on the clear message that the government stands behind them and is ready to support efforts to prepare for Brexit. She also encouraged them to continue their positive approach to the future, and to talk about the opportunities that lie ahead.

Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said, ‘we are stepping up a gear and increasing the pace of our preparations as we get ready to leave the EU on 31 October. The businesses I met with agreed that we must take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead: in innovation, new AI technologies, clean growth and the extraordinary scientific advances in which Britain is already leading the way. They also spoke about the benefits of doing away with certain EU red tape that has a strangle hold on productivity.’

A recent contingency planning study, from UK’s biggest business group CBI, however, showed that neither the UK nor the EU were ready for a no-deal Brexit. The CBI analysis showed that while the UK’s preparations to date are welcome, the unprecedented nature of Brexit means some aspects cannot be mitigated. The CBI has backed up government efforts to help prepare for a no-deal exit by publishing practical steps that the UK, EU and businesses can take to reduce the worst effects, as the likelihood of a no-deal increases.

Meanwhile, the head of the Wellcome Trust, Lady Eliza Manningham-Buller, recently urged the Prime Minister that a no-deal Brexit 'threatens' the UK science industry. And Robert-Jan Smits, the EU’s former top R&D official, warned that there is no chance of the UK becoming an associate member of the bloc’s next R&D programme if it leaves the union without a deal.

Speaking at the roundtable, Andrea Leadsom said ‘our preparations for no-deal will now be more open than ever, giving the business community the confidence to wave the flag for Britain and to seize the myriad of opportunities that lie ahead.’

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